Yatsugatake Echo Line
Kobuchizawa michi no eki was fine for an overnight stay. Even on a Friday night it is not so crowded and very quiet. The morning is dry, but overcast, as we set off for Kirigamine following the Yatsugatake Echo Line and Vinas Line. This is a good drive, even on a weekend though the weather is, of course, suspect.
At the Kurumayama ropeway station the clouds are hemming in the mountains, so we don’t think it is worth the price of two tickets so pass on by. We do stop a little later at a spot, to view flowers, that offers a trek up the hillside. The cloud we have been driving through for a while has lifted, so we decide to take the walk.
It is a fairly short, but steep, climb for the purpose of viewing Azalea which are well past their prime and the Nikko Kisuge, a type of yellow lily, have yet to reach puberty. Anyway, we have been viewing these flowers for some weeks now.
We enjoy the climb and the limited views but are mostly concerned with trying to spot the birds we can hear calling all around.The ubiquitous Uguis, we have more chance of spotting in our garden at home, Cuckoo, always calling at a distance and what I take to be a Stonechat, though identification is difficult.
From here it is a short drive to the Yashimagahara wetland. This wetland is in the centre of Nagano pref. and north west of Kirigamine Highland. This offers an excellent round trip walk mostly on a wooden boardwalk and some paved or gravel track but no vehicles. For this walk we are mostly enveloped in mist which adds as much in mystery as it detracts from scenery.
We have walked this route before and have positive memories of it from a different season. It is popular but not ridiculous. For flowers, trees, birds, space and sometimes silence it is well up there in this crowded part of the world.
Finishing this walk in the early afternoon, we head for Matsumoto on the Azalea line as Matsumoto castle is signposted. This is a great road if you are into steep inclines, declines and curves. Fog, of course adds to the tension, Recommended.
Passing through Matsumoto. Nod to castle on the right, we make for Hakuba. This is at times a confusing route, but mostly a flat straight road. We stop at Hakuba michi no eki for the night. This is small and the parking backs onto the road. There are several other overnight vehicles. The toilets are ok but not great though rubbish bins are provided. A reasonable place. I suspect traffic on the road will subside during the night.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.